Sarah Andelman Talks Life Post-Colette and the Future of Fashion Retail

Sarah Andelman Talks Life Post-Colette and the Future of Fashion Retail

We caught up and talked about her latest event at London Fashion Week.

We caught up and talked about her latest event at London Fashion Week.

Text: Ashley Simpson

When Sarah Andelman announced that her and her mother’s Parisian concept shop Colette would be shuttering its doors at the end of last December, the fashion world mourned. Where else had brought such a reliably cool buy, and such an innovative mix of fresh fashion and art to the modern shopping experience? The closing of Colette felt like the end of an era, and for better or worse, a statement on the state of fashion retail today and the future of the multi-brand brick and mortar.

Since saying goodbye to her creation, Andelman has taken on a new role—she’s consulting for a range of brands, from fashion to beauty and even sports labels. And she’s working with American Express, most recently this week at London Fashion Week. Here, she lent her eye to a pop-up shop at the American Express Platinum House (a private lounge for Platinum Card members, which also happened to be the location of Alexa Chung’s rock star-heavy after-party on Saturday night). She transformed a room in the house—located, fittingly, at the original Central Saint Martins’ campus—into an unconventional stop-in shop, where Platinum Card Members and fashion types could stop in in-between shows for a curated selection of London-based designers Anya Hindmarch, Bernstock Speirs, Azumi & David, Alexa Chung, and more. The concept was simple—run by after say, Christopher Kane’s collection, sip on a glass of champagne, indulge in an onsite meditation class or a bite from Duck & Waffle, while browsing Andelman’s selection of local designers to watch: some unexpected shopping in the Colette tradition of youthful surprise.

We caught up with Andelman, who has recently founded her own agency Just An Idea, at the Platinum House after Chung’s debut runway show. Here, she gives us her thoughts on life after Colette, the future of fashion retail, and what young designers need to do to stand out and break-through in an increasingly over-saturated and digital fashion world.

Tell me a little about the pieces you chose, the curation, and what you thought was interesting to show at the old Central State Martins?

It started with American Express inviting me to be part of the committee, collective. I took it more like a personal mission than my work. I think it’s interesting this process—I think they have 24 members, all coming from different fields, which injects some ideas.

Different personalities, different points of view.

Exactly. And when they told me they planned to be in London in Saint Martins, I thought it would be really fun for the card members to have a little shop experience. I didn’t realize it was both a morning and evening place! Originally my idea was to ask designers to have a little product around American Express. Really you can do so many cool things, like a t-shirt with a special croquet or a special croquet of card holders. With the timing, it was really hard. So, it’s very simple. It’s a little experiment. I think it’s cool to be here. I think retail outside of a normal shop is still interesting. Particularly when I see a product when I don’t expect to shop! I would like in the future to be able to work with them on more curated projects. Right now, it was more just giving a hand, a little help.

What kinds of work would you like to do in the future?

It’s really a creative platform where you can introduce some different people, brands, to some artists, so I work with all kinds of people from beauty to fashion to sports companies, and each one is totally different atmosphere and I love it. I think I bring them a little fresh eye from outside, and I think it is really important because sometimes you are so focused, you don’t really see through. So, all kinds of different projects. I can’t really say the names of the products because they aren’t out yet… But it’s going to be a bag company, with some projects that will become really big. I gave a little hand to Kevin Ma from Hypebeast for the first edition of Hypefest in Brooklyn in early October. It’s all kind of different projects. It’s a continuation of what I used to do without the stress of planning the next windows or placing orders, but still to follow what’s cool, what’s going on, and to help.

So now you’re consulting and working with all these very diverse types of brands. Is there anything you’re particularly excited about that you can talk about?

There is one for Paris fashion Week! There is one that I will introduce to the world. It’s a fascinating brand with amazing history. I can’t wait to see if it’s going to have the response.

I’m curious about your thoughts on the current state of fashion retail. What do you think is still dynamic? Obviously, everything is changing dramatically.

Now, I think the best thing is to have your brand and sell directly to customers. And I really push the brands to do this.

Who do you think is really resonating with their customer base and selling in a way that is connecting?

You know Jen from Away? It’s a perfect example of launching a brand. You don’t need multi-brands. You just sell directly through the website.

What are you excited about this London Fashion Week?

Yesterday, I went to see Ryan Lo and Matty Bovan. Always in London, you will see new designers who are creative with cool ideas. That’s always very inspiring.

Are there other ones you’re interested in seeing?

Everyone expects for Burberry… I always love Jonathan Anderson. And I always prefer Anya Hindmarch. Actually, she didn’t even show her new collection, but she gave this experience which is actually open to everybody.

It’s really cool. Showing in public spaces.

Fashion not being only for fashion people.

Now, where do you shop? Where do you go?

Online.

Has anything surprised you this fashion cycle?

I think some brands realized they have to show in a different way than just a classic fashion show. It’s so difficult for the brands. They have like 15 minutes and then the next someone else is the thing. You will catch the eye, but someone else will—

10 minutes later.

I think it’s going to change, but it’s still also part of a certain strategy.

There’s a structure. What advice would you give to an emerging brand that is trying to get attention?

It’s easier now. I think you can manage if you make something different.

The possibility is still there. Is there anything else you are looking forward to for Paris, for Milan?

I think Moncler is really interesting. I can’t wait for the new chapter in Milan. And in Paris, obviously Celine, like everybody.

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Check out some images of the event below!

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: ( Editors note: this photo is a composite image and has been digitally altered) American Express Platinum House London Fashion Week Day Program on September 15, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for American Express)

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